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Opinion Editorials

Premium WordPress Themes – Not Your Average Theme



revolution-tech.jpgAnyone that uses WordPress blogging platform knows that there was a severe drought in themes this past year.  Searching for new themes in 2006 would return you themes created in 2005- welcome to boring.

The cry for WordPress CMS style themes as well as a more professional 2.0 bend brought a fantastic designer into the limelight, that designer being Brian GardnerThe Revolution Themes designed by him with a CMS / Magazine style interface appears to have opened a new craze in the WordPress theme world.  These Premium themes start in price from $49 all the way up to $100 for a single license with Brians themes landing in the $79 range and up (not bad).  Some of the themes are worth every penny, other themes designed by others are ripoffs of other themes, but for a price, the theme drought is over. 

Here’s the thing with WordPress themes, even the new Premium themes- they can be complicated in many cases, there’s no money back guarantee, and they lack automation.  Also, these themes leak SEO due to percieved repeat content by search engines and require close management and adjustment using SEO plugins. 

Another issue I have is the idea of charging for the initial theme without allowing access to the admin panel.  Many of these larger CMS style themes require modification of content independently of the blog- for example setting up featured articles or new stories- these updates may require you to update featured content often as opposed to static content.

So here are a few tips & suggestions

for new and seasoned WordPress users when looking at themes to purchase.

  • Before dropping coin on a pretty premium theme, you need to discover the purpose of your site in general.  Content Management Systems are more like websites with a blog background.
  • Read the tutorials section of the theme you’re contemplating.  Read each tutorial to discover your depth of knowledge editing the various regions of the theme.
  • Click through the demos of the themes placing your content in the various sections in your mind (or on paper as I do)- does it work for your situation?  Do not assume it is simple to remove or add sections as a removal of a section could destroy the themes look and navigation although re-purposing a section is generally the way to go.
  • Seek out the level of assistance that comes with the theme- is the designer willing to work with you to work out solutions to your unique needs- if not, move on.
  • Is there a forum that addresses code or theme problems (premium doesn’t mean perfect)?
  • Are the plugins needed to use as the theme is demonstrated, packed into the theme already for installation?  For $49 dollars and up they should be.
  • Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically.  Many newer, less savvy agents must understand that just because you’ve been okay with template sites like advanced access and xsites in the past does not mean someone who is live / self hosted already will want their design copied – be creative and be unique, theft of layout and design is not a compliment, nor is copying the branding or copyof someone elses site.  (here’s an awesome example of CSS & copy theft.)

Suggested Designers: (Designers I personally like)

Brian and Cory have teamed up on a new internet venture centered around site design – will be bringing you more, so stay tuned!

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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  1. Robert D. Ashby

    January 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Benn – I like the Rev Tech theme, except I don’t see it working for most of our blogging styles. I tend to like the neoclassical theme and a few others, then tweaking them as I learn more about programming (my company site is html only and needs upgrading also).

    I am currently pursuing a changeover from my current Typepad to WordPress under the same host as I feel WordPress presents better opportunities (running a mirror site right now). What do you think?

  2. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 9:48 am

    WordPress as CMS for a company site is the only reason you would want to do it- it’s a blog with a landing page and architecture for your content.

  3. Drew Meyers

    January 18, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I like both Brian and Cory as designers as well — Brian is the guy behind the theme on Zillow Blog, and Cory designed Geek Estate (and I use a theme of his on my personal blog as well as the CoRE blog). That’s awesome they’ve teamed up.

  4. Cory Miller

    January 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Benn, thanks for the link and comments! We’re pumped about offering quality themes for small business-type websites. I think the SEO benefits that WordPress brings to the table, coupled with well-designed themes, offer a lot to local businesses looking for new customers, such as realtors.

    Drew, thanks for the nice comments as well!

  5. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I agree totally…

  6. Carson Coots

    January 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Rev Mag is what I am working with right now, and it wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to figure out. Plus you have to make sure the images are a consistent size, and those thumbnails dont create themselves.

    Check this out:

  7. Jay Thompson

    January 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Benn – what you’ve done with Revolution at is nothing short of art. Fine art. You are the master.

    That the guy at stole your copy verbatim is a crime. Literally.

    The problem I’m seeing with “premium” themes is they are becoming as widespread as free themes. While the number of sites using Revolution will never approach the numbers of something like a K2 theme, they are really beginning to pop up — particularly the “magazine style” themes. I wonder if any of these theme developers have ever considered issuing “limited editions”. I can understand why they don’t, as the amount of work developing a theme is considerable. But as the popular ones begin to become widespread, it does dilute the “specialness” of the premiums.

    Curious here… You say, “Never purchase a Premium theme similar to another in your profession unless you intend on having a professional designer change your theme dramatically”. I don’t understand why someone that purchases a theme should be required to change the theme dramatically. Why is a purchased theme any different than a free one? How is an agent to know if some other agent out there is using a similar theme???

  8. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    You’re not required to do anything. Add a little 2.0 thinking to the rationality behind my statement and it’s obvious the point is to be above or a step beyond what would be normal. If you want to be average, why buy a premium theme?

    But let me take this to another level here – if you’re no longer busting out a monthly fee for template built sites like xsite or advanced, then obviously you’ve saved some cash, why not invest one year of monthly payment to the design of your site. Then, you’re more likely to be unique and set apart in your market.

    Seperate niche applications of a premium theme is not at issue here- I’m thinking ahead Xs 1.4 million… go bigger than the last or don’t go at all.

    You make both of my points here: “But as the popular ones begin to become widespread, it does dilute the “specialness” of the premiums.”

  9. Benn Rosales

    January 18, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    and by the way, don’t kid yourself, these premium themes are getting more dull by the day, the overall intent is to capture new business and that business is to design you something special. If not, it’s still an out of the box application.

  10. Carson Coots

    January 18, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    The average joe that doesn’t spend 15 hours a day scouring blogs and wordpress themes can’t even tell a K2 from a Revolution from a MistyLook. I don’t think there is too much to worry about as long as the headers/colors are tweaked. Man, in my office, they wouldn’t even know a kubrick if it slapped them in the face.

  11. Daniel Rothamel

    January 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    I’m a Revolution fan, duh. I agree that using the premium themes isn’t necessarily easy, but in the case of Revolution, the free support forum is excellent. Plenty of good advice and helpful people.

    I do agree that a theme such as Revolution is basically a blog with a landing page, but in my case, and in the case of our brokerage blog, that is exactly what I want. It offers flexibility. I need to get to tweaking the SEO.

    As far as what guys like you and Rudy Bachraty are doing with Revolution– impressive.

    One day, one day. . .

  12. Steve Belt

    January 27, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Benn, I’m a bit behind in my multi-author blog reading, but I had some time this weekend, and finally did a tiny bit of catching up, when I stumbled upon this. I completely agree with Jay… is an astounding implementation of Revolution.

    I’ve sent a request off to Brian Gardner, asking him to work his magic for me. I hope my lame website, which has a theme many agent websites share (and did I mention how lame it is?) will get Revolutionized. If he can’t take on my little project, I’ll have to do it myself, but I’d really rather he did it.

  13. Steve Belt

    January 27, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    PS- Thanks to this, my catching up on reading blogs was completely thrown into a tail spin…but that’s a good thing.

  14. Benn Rosales

    January 27, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    Steve, I aim to please… happy Sunday!

  15. Benn Rosales

    January 27, 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Steve – did you see this?

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Opinion Editorials

Can we combat grind culture and injustice with a nap?

(OPINION EDITORIALS) A global pandemic and a climate of racial injustice may require fresh thinking and a new approach from what grind culture has taught us.



Sleeping cat with plant, fighting grind culture.

Information is delivered to us at warp speed with access to television, radio, and the internet (and more specifically, social media). We are inundated with messages. Oftentimes they’re personalized by something that a friend or family shared. Other times we manage them for work, school, or just keeping up with news. Many entrepreneurs already wear many hats and burn the midnight oil.

During this global pandemic, COVID-19, we have also seen a rise in awareness and attention to social injustice and systemic racism. This is not a new concept, as we all know. But it did feel like the attention was advanced exponentially by the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day 2020. Many people and entrepreneurs felt called to action (or at least experienced self-reflection). And yet they were working at all hours to evolve their businesses to survive. All of this happening simultaneously may have felt like a struggle while they tried to figure out exactly they can do.

There are some incredible thought leaders – and with limited time, it can be as simple as checking them out on Instagram. These public figures give ideas around what to be aware of and how to make sure you are leveling up your awareness.

Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Center for Antiracist Research – he has been studying anti-racism and has several books and interviews that help give language to what has been happening in our country for centuries. His content also delves into why and how white people have believed they are more than people of color. Here is a great interview he did with Brené Brown on her Unlocking Us podcast.

Tamika Mallory – American activist and one of the leading organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. She has been fighting for justice to be brought upon the officers that killed Breonna Taylor on March 13. These are among other efforts around the country to push back on gun control, feminist issues, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brené Brown – research professor at the University of Houston and has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She has been listening and engaging on how racism and our shame intersect. She also speaks about how people can reflect on themselves and where they can take action to better our society. She has some antiracism resources on her website.

With all of this information and the change in our daily routines and work habits (or business adjustments), what is a fresh approach or possibly a new angle that you haven’t been able to consider?

There is one social channel against grind culture that may not be as well-known. At an initial glance, you may even perceive this place as a spoof Twitter and Instagram that is just telling you to take a nap. But hold on, it’s actually much smarter than that. The description says “We examine the liberating power of naps. We believe rest is a form of resistance and reparations. We install Nap Experiences. Founding in 2016.”

It might be a great time for you to check out The Nap Ministry, inspired by Tricia Hersey. White people are called to action, and people of color are expressly told to give time to taking care of themselves. Ultimately, it goes both ways – everyone needs the time to recharge and recuperate. But people of color especially are being told to value their rest more than the grind culture. Yes, you’re being told you need to manage your mental health and include self-care in your schedule.

Through The Nap Ministry, Tricia “examines rest as a form of resistance by curating safe spaces for the community to rest via Collective Napping Experiences, immersive workshops, and performance art installations.”

“In this incredibly rich offering, we speak with Tricia on the myths of grind culture, rest as resistance, and reclaiming our imaginative power through sleep. Capitalism and white supremacy have tricked us into believing that our self-worth is tied to our productivity. Tricia shares with us the revolutionary power of rest.” They have even explored embracing sleep as a political act.

Let this allow you to take a deep breath and sigh – it is a must that you take care of yourself to take care of your business as well as your customers and your community. And yes, keep your drive and desire to “get to work”. But not at your expense for the old grind culture narrative.

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?



Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.



Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?


At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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